The Amazing Blessings of Living a Spiritually Rich Life

Monday morning ushers in the beginning of another work week. With a full week of activity ahead, Sweet T and I are looking forward to celebrating my Mom’s 80th birthday this coming weekend. In the decade since my Dad passed, we’ve watched my Mom grow deeper in her spiritual walk and grow closer to God. This has been a true blessing to us and all the people who know her. My Mom is a social butterfly; always kind, always generous. She’s deeply loved by her friends, many of whom she’s know for decades. She’s never met a stranger and she’s always willing to help someone.  Mom is a great example of what it means to live the Bible you read. She does that every day in the way she treats other people and goes about her daily routines. She’s got an incredibly bubbly spirit despite not always having the easiest of lives. Mom often reminds me of the popular pericope “The Widow’s Mite” found in the Synoptic Gospels of Mark and Luke.

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The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Mark)

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV)

My Monday Morning Cup

The Widow’s Mite (Gospel of Luke)

1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4 (NET)

The story is a lesson in poverty and prosperity based on the weights and measures of God’s economic scale. The widow, while physically poor, was rich spiritually. In contrast, the scribes, dressed in their long robes of pride, were rich physically but stood before the widow spiritually bankrupt. They had everything and gave only that which cost them nothing. She had nothing yet gave God her all.

There is more to walking the walking then simply talking the talk. Actions have always spoken louder than words. James, the half-brother of Jesus, makes it clear that our belief is expressed through our deeds. What we do, in other words, reflects what comes to our mind when we think of God.

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14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17 (ESV)

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My Mom will readily tell you that she doesn’t understand all the things of God. She has often said she doesn’t know her Bible as well as she would like. Yet, her actions show how deeply God’s truth is engrained in her. Her faith is self-evident in how she greets each day and every person she meets. Sweet T and I are thankful that the Lord has blessed us with her and grateful that she continues to be a blessing to others.

One of Mom’s gifts that she readily shares with others is her art. As long as I can remember, my Mom has always done artwork, particularly molding and sculpting original pieces from clay. This has provided her with the opportunity to spend quiet time with God and to share her love of art with others through the pieces she produces. Her artists circle consists of an eclectic blend of friends, each with their own unique talents.

Original Clay Pieces made by Mom © Karin I. Bantau

Mom models living a spiritually rich life. When we put God first, good things happen.

How about you? Do you feel spiritually rich today? I pray you do.

P.S. If you see Mom this week be sure to give her a birthday hug. Be sure to tell those you love that you love them. Better yet, do something that shows them how much they mean to you. None of us are promised tomorrow. Amen.

God is good all the time. All the time God is good!

Be Blessed and be a blessing.

#Spiritual Growth #More of Him Less of Me #Blessings

God Remains Good

It is easy to focus on the evil in the world and miss the goodness. Evil sucks the light out of everything it touches, enveloping our lives in darkness, leaving us unable to recognize the truth. Yes, there is evil in the world. But the darkness has not overcome the light. The light continues to shine through it, piercing its veil. But instead of seeing the goodness, we focus on the darkness. That is just how we process a fallen world, in our natural state. Responding supernaturally amid excruciating agony is not our go to answer.

No doubt, evil works overtime to deface the image of God and destroy His reputation. Evil knows that if it can cause you to doubt the goodness of God, then it has won a victory in the battle between good and evil.  In light of heartbreaking tragedies, it is easy for us to be afraid and doubt the goodness of the Lord.

“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Genesis 1:1 (ESV)

Typically, every time when our world faces tragedy brought upon us by a demented, evil madman (or perhaps it’s madperson in our Uber-PC age), shouts can be heard asking “Where was God?” or “Why would a good God allow this type of suffering?” as if the presence of evil someone discounts the power of God or worse, attempts to write Him off entirely, like He never really ever existed. But, evil acts happening in our world shouldn’t push us away from God. Rather, these horrific tragedies should cause us to pull closer to Him. Evil exists to counter the goodness of God. In spite of evil, God is good.

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God’s goodness is unfailing. God’s goodness is unceasing. God is truly good all the time.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (NIV)

God didn’t cause a troubled killer to walk into a school and murder innocent children. This blame game is not new or strictly true just of us. People have been blaming God for things He does not do for all of history. The Lord does not dish out a quota of misery every week. Yes, bad things happen. Evil walks among us. God’s heart breaks each time evil strikes like it did in Parkland, Florida last week and at Columbine over a decade ago. Our suffering pains God just as it does us. Jesus weeps for us like He wept for his friend Lazarus.

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About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.” Luke 13:1-5 (The Message)

In the midst of our suffering, we can trust that God is at work, bringing good out of that which the Enemy intended for evil. This is a foundational biblical principle. God is for us. He is not against us.

 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

Don’t let the evil in this world blind you to the goodness of God. He truly is good. You can trust the Lord to deliver on His promises. You can count on God’s loving-kindness and His unending delight in us who delight in Him.

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Requiem for a Friend

Your name crossed my lips today. I caught myself before uttering it loud enough for most of the team to hear. But, I know at least a couple of people noticed it. I suppose it is to be expected doing something you did so many Sunday mornings. You would have been sitting behind the piano though. Me? I sat upstairs behind the sound board, talking to the band through the in-ear system through a small microphone clipped to my shirt. Sitting there, I couldn’t help thinking of you, my friend, and how much you are missed.

I’m not sure we’ve recovered from your sudden departure. It’s hard to wrap my mind around. And my heart certainly hasn’t caught up. When you asked me to covenant in prayer with you those few months before He called you home, I had no idea. Neither of us did. Who knew our day of deepest sorrow and  your day of greatest joy were right around the corner?

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Sometimes I hear your voice as I walk down the hallways of the church. Other times, I imagine seeing your bright smile. You brought joy to so many. It’s hard to grasp how your family is handling your absence. They are strong, rooted in the faith you modeled. You would be proud of them. Your amazing legacy lives on through the people whose hearts you touched.

You spoke truth, but always in love. You lived a lifestyle of prayer and worship. The light of Jesus shone brightly through you each day you walked this Earth, regardless of any hardship or trouble you faced. You were a faithful soldier, boldly sharing the Gospel, not only through your words, but through your actions.

“Remember,” you said, “you’re either pointing people to Christ or pushing them away. We show them Jesus by the words we speak and the works we do.”

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Oh, how you loved Jesus. I cannot help but be sad that you are gone. The Chinese buffet is not the same without you. There’s an emptiness that wasn’t there before. I am a better person due to your brief presence in my life. Know that I am overjoyed for you as you dance in the presence of the Lord. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss you. One day, we will be reunited.

Until then, we’ll continue lifting His name up in song on Sunday morning, pointing people to Jesus.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.